Nicole Wong • March 29, 2020
Though a Western teapot or a Standard Brewer can get the job done in brewing your tea, there is something special about the particulars of tea traditions from origin. Here is the continuation of a series on specialized teaware, the first being the kyusu.
Pinku, our beloved pet name for our Uji-born shiboridashi, is a squat, palm-shaped porcelain vessel perfect for certain variations of personal senchado. Shiro Stripu, our clamshell-shaped, lightly-glazed clay shiboridashi, is a modern take on the traditional design, and a fantastically new way to experience gyokuro. But first:
What is a shiboridashi?
A shiboridashi (lit. "squeeze out") teapot is like a houhin ("treasure cup"), another traditional Japanese teapot. They’re very easy to mistake for each other, but the difference appears to be in their filter design and lids: a houhin has a distinct strainer built in, and have a deep, bowl-shaped body with a defined lid. Shiboridashis might have small, rake-like filters carved into its bowl body, its lid filtering large leafed teas through a tilting of its lid--some have referenced the Chinese-originating gaiwan as its counterpart.
Why would I use it?
To personalize your tea ritual; to connect deeply with a tea culture and tradition that has been long withstanding for centuries and millennia; to begin. Similar to one study that implied the color of a coffee cup affects the taste of the coffee inside it, using a teapot of your choosing can enrich the taste of the tea inside it. Of course, a Japanese tea doesn’t necessarily mandate a Japanese teapot; it’s all about choice and preference. We like pairing traditions to vessels as much as we like experimenting modernity in our brewing specs. For the ephemeral kabusechas and gyokuros we occasionally have in season, their producers’ handicraft are beautifully emphasized in the handmade, small lot porcelain/clay wares we find while at origin. For delicate teas, porcelain and clay also retain heat differently than glass--which can make for a drastically different tasting experience, too. (While we love our glass Standard Brewers, we fine-tune specs for Western-style steeping.)
Is it worth it?
We believe that any vessel that you personally enjoy is part of the equation to a great cup of tea. Among all the options--like steel filters, paper tea bags, Old Grand-dad style brewing, or a vintage teapot--there are arguable pros and cons for each. While another brew vessel might be strong arguments against cost-efficiency, practicality, or minimalism, let’s go into why we acquired Pinku and Shiro Stripu in the first place.
We encountered both of these wares while on our origin trip in 2019. We were mesmerized by their design, their history, and their makers’ ethos.
Pinku, made of smooth porcelain, and Shiro Stripu, of unglazed clay with hand-etched detailing, are beautifully made in small kilns. Though delicate in material, both shiboridashis have a heft that fits comfortably in our hands, pouring perfectly through their thoughtful presentation.
Pinku hails from a 400-year-old ceramicist family in Uji, Kyoto. Shiro Stripu, though relatively new in comparison, creates modern designs through traditional artisans, a cooperation between generations and craft.
Both of these small-lot, craft kilns mean that their work is the result of painstaking effort and years (or centuries) of tradition, teaching, and trying behind it. Pinku’s squat design has a modern color, but possesses a traditional blueprint; Shiro Stripu is a modern template produced from traditional thought. We like to float between both, making the past relevant and reverent to the present.
We hope you enjoy your tea, no matter the cup, the bowl, or the pot.